Last year I was asked to mention the most influential business book for me. Among the many obvious ones I chose Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit – Why do we do what we do and how to change.
Why Duhigg? As he writes, many companies struggle to change despite trying really hard and for several years. They know what they need to change in their businesses – processes, products, business applications or mode of operation – but are not able to make the change happen.
Change always boils down to individuals
They are not able to make the change happen, because the real change always boils down to individuals and their daily routines – their habits. It’s not enough that people understand the need for change, clearly see what needs to be changed and know what should be done in a new way. The change won’t take place until a large enough number of individuals start doing things in a new way, every day – until they adopt new routines, start repeating them and won’t return to the old ones when they face the first obstacles.
In change management the focus should be put on individuals
In change management or when leading change, the focus should be put on individuals as early as possible: who are the ones that need to start doing something in a new way and how will their daily work be impacted. Change management should definetely cover the actions that make it possible for individuals to adopt new, right type of routines.
When several individuals have adopted the new habits, we can see the change happen on a company level and key performance indicators move to the targeted direction. This is the power of habits.